Shelter-in-place lifted in Texas City following chemical release at Marathon Galveston Bay Refinery

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Sunday, December 17, 2023
Shelter-in-place issued in Texas City due to chemical release
A shelter-in-place has been issued in Texas City due to a chemical release at Marathon Galveston Bay Refinery, according to officials.

TEXAS CITY, Texas (KTRK) -- A shelter-in-place has been lifted Sunday afternoon following reports of a chemical release at Marathon Galveston Bay Refinery, according to officials.

Joe Tumbleson, the Texas City Emergency Manager, told Eyewitness News there was a release of sulfur dioxide at about 8:45 a.m. after the refinery had operational issues in one of their units.

At about 9 a.m., multiple roads were closed, and the shelter-in-place was issued to neighboring facilities out of an abundance of caution, according to city officials.

The City of Texas City posted on social media about the notice at 9:13 a.m. on Sunday and lifted the advisory at about noon.

Tumbleson said there were no medical issues or medical calls.

The following roads and areas were affected and are now reopened:

  • Loop 197 at SH-146
  • 519 at SH-146
  • 4th Ave S at Loop 197

ABC13 Meteorologist Kevin Roth said the wind was coming from the northeast and slowly moving south at about 7 mph. Roth said the forecast doesn't show heavy wind gusts in the area, so residential areas weren't impacted.

"Marathon Petroleum personnel at the company's Galveston Bay Refinery have resolved an operational upset that had led to a temporary increase in sulfur dioxide emissions earlier today. Emissions have returned to normal levels. There were no injuries. The City of Texas City has lifted a shelter in place that it had issued for an area south of the refinery," Marathon Galveston Bay Refinery said in a statement to ABC13.

You can get alerts about emergencies and other important community news by signing up for Texas City's Emergency Alert Program.

How to shelter in place

To shelter in place during a chemical emergency, minimize airflow in the home by turning off furnaces, air conditioners, fans, and heaters, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

You can use plastic sheeting to seal windows. Use duct tape to help cover gaps around windows and doors.

Once a shelter-in-place advisory is recommended, residents must work quickly to seal all windows and doors shut. Then, the waiting begins for emergency updates.

What chemical exposure symptoms to watch for

Common signs of chemical exposure include - skin irritation, runny nose, coughing, shortness of breath, and eye, nose, and throat irritation. Existing sinus or asthmatic conditions may become more aggravated. Monitor how you feel and consider contacting your doctor for advice, Harris County Public Health officials said.

According to the EPA, smoke inhalation from any fire can irritate people's lungs, especially those with asthma or other respiratory medical conditions. Seek medical help if your symptoms are extreme or persist over an extended period of time.

CONTINUE READING: Texas has already seen 25 chemical emergencies this year. Here's how to protect yourself next time